A critical and reflective commentary on a portfolio of compositions

Slater, Angela Elizabeth (2016) A critical and reflective commentary on a portfolio of compositions. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Abstract

This thesis consists of a portfolio of nine compositions accompanied by a written commentary and (where possible) audio recordings of these pieces. The compositions span a variety of instrumentations from large orchestral works to solo and chamber works.

In the accompanying commentary I discuss the technical foundations of my compositional language, examining selected aspects of my gestural, harmonic, and timbral language to shed light on my creative process. The development and prominence of each of these aspects is discussed, with particular emphasis on the evolution of my timbral language.

I demonstrate how I use extra-musical stimuli to determine compositional parameters for various musical elements affecting large-scale structures, gestural, harmonic and timbral language and more broadly the aesthetic impulses of a piece. As part of this, I discuss the importance of a concept that feeds into a work’s title to help determine various structural elements. I also explain how the views and thoughts of composers such as Kaija Saariaho, Arlene Sierra, Thomas Adès and Dai Fujikura have helped shape my approach to extra-musical stimuli.

Chapter One focuses on a number of aspects of my compositional language, including extra-musical stimuli, gesture, harmony and timbre and covers a discussion of Stormscape, Momentations, Night Airs, Shadows Create the Night and Nacreous Contours. It also considers historical precedents for the techniques that I used in my works, tracking something of a trajectory through these to my music. In Chapter Two I discuss my choral work Apparitions in more detail, exploring how textural elements help to define the structure and enhance word-painting. Chapter Three centres on a detailed discussion of how extra-musical stimulus has been mapped musically affecting parameters such as structure, gesture and harmony in Roil in Stillness: Ripples and Waves. In Chapter Four a detailed discussion of a personal creative process sheds analytical light on Rainbow Fires. Here a number of different aspects are discussed with a focus on extra-musical stimuli, gesture, harmony, timbre and the application of ‘information theory’.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Sackman, Nicholas
Cooke, Mervyn
Keywords: Music composition, Contemporary music, Music
Subjects: M Music and Literature on music > M Music
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of Humanities
Item ID: 38616
Depositing User: Slater, Angela
Date Deposited: 14 Dec 2016 06:40
Last Modified: 26 May 2017 21:16
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/38616

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